Car lingo often derives from California


In the aftermath of the Second World War, California’s population grew by roughly 500,000 people a year.

By 1963 it passed New York as the country’s most populous state.

And no place had higher levels of growth than Los Angeles. The city added 500,000 between 1940 and 1950. By 1960, the population was almost 2.5 million. By 1980 nearly 3 million.

And everyone needed a car. At least one. A lot of the returning vets spent their spare time and money modifying old cars – because new ones were scarce, and expensive. Hot rods became all the rage. And car customization was the thing. They wanted their cars to be unique, and to stand out. And fast.

And with all that attention on cars, a car language — of sorts — emerged.

KCRW’s car guy Tod Mesirow walks us through his favorites (click on the player above, or here).